Nashville SC has joined FC Dallas in having to pull out of the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida after nine players tested positive for COVID-19.
The club said one player tested positive upon arrival July 1 at the league’s host hotel in the Orlando area. Another eight tested positive within a few days of arrival.
“Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “For every decision we make in our return to play, the well-being of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority.”
Nashville SC was playing in its first season in MLS. The team dropped its first two matches of the season before the league shut down on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
FC Dallas was forced to withdraw from the World Cup-style tournament on Monday in the wake of positive tests for 10 players and a coach.
Major League Soccer followed by announcing an updated format and schedule for the tournament.
The league reconfigured the six groups into four teams apiece as a result of the respective withdrawals.
Chicago Fire FC have moved from Group A to Group B, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Fire will face the Sounders on Tuesday morning, the Earthquakes five nights later and the Whitecaps on July 23.
The MLS also altered another match, pitting the Sounders versus the Whitecaps on July 19.
WATCH | MLS players send powerful message before kicking off MLS is Back Tournament
On Wednesday, Major League Soccer said it had recorded four more positive COVID-19 tests over the last two days.
The league says the four tests came from two different clubs. There were 1,888 players, coaches, referees, club staff, league staff and other individuals tested on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The league announced the test findings in a social media post late Wednesday. It did not identify the two clubs with positive tests.
The competition kicked off Wednesday night with Orlando City defeating expansion Inter Miami CF 2-1.
The Montreal Impact face the New England Revolution on Thursday evening.
The league announced earlier this week that five Nashville players had confirmed positive tests with four other players requiring additional testing after recording inconclusive test results.
Commissioner Don Garber told ESPN on Wednesday night that subsequent Nashville test results would be reviewed overnight before making a decision on the expansion club’s participation in the tournament.
Bedoya helps Union blank New York
Meanwhile, Alejandro Bedoya scored in the 63rd minute and the Philadelphia Union defeated NYCFC 1-0 on Thursday in the MLS is Back tournament.
NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove and got a hand on the ball but couldn’t keep Bedoya’s left-footed strike out of the net after a scoreless first half.
The teams met on the second day of the monthlong tournament played without fans in attendance at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.
Goalkeeper Andre Blake preserved Philadelphia’s first win of the season in the 86th minute when he dove to push away Brazilian forward Heber’s shot from the left side of the box.
Teams are divided into six groups for the opening stage of the World Cup-style tournament, with results counting toward the regular season. FC Dallas was forced to withdraw after 10 players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19.
NYCFC finished atop the Eastern Conference last season. The team returned much of its roster, including midfielder Maxi Moralez, who led the league in assists last season with 20. Heber had 15 goals in 22 appearances with the team last season.
NYCFC lost both of its games played before the season was shut down on March 12. The team has yet to score a goal this season.
The Union, which had a loss and a draw to start the season, finished third in the East last year. Forward Kacper Przybylko, who led the Union with 15 goals last season, started.
Players for the Union wore jerseys with the names of people killed by police. Ray Gaddis wore the name Taylor for Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician who died after being shot eight times by Louisville, Kentucky, officers serving a narcotics search warrant in her apartment. Goalkeeper Blake wore Floyd, for George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
The group stage features early morning games to avoid the heat and humidity in Florida. The game-time temperature was 27.7 Celsius with 88 per cent humidity.